It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I find myself in a reflective mood. As for most of us, this is a sentimental time of year. We have fond and emotional memories of celebrating the holiday season with friends and family; childhood memories that stir something in our souls and provide a connection to those we love.
But as the Lord has drawn me closer to Him, I find myself looking for significance and meaning in those celebrations that point to Him. I no longer am satisfied with the sentiments that thrill my flesh. I want to celebrate these "holidays" as true "holy days", and I want to be consciously seeking my Lord as my spirit is renewed. That doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the bountiful blessings of spending time with my family yesterday, or marvel at the provision the Good Lord has given us. It's just that I wanted Thanksgiving to be more than family fun, mouth-watering food, football games, and going to an afternoon movie.
Since Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday, I wanted to know more than I'd been taught in school about the origins of that historical event. Surely, there's a deeper message in the Thanksgiving story than Squanto, corn and succotash, and the fall harvest. Turns out there might be...
It is interesting to note that, prior to making their way to the New World, the Pilgrims, themselves the victims of religious persecution, spent several years among Sephardic Jews in Holland. Perhaps the Biblical perspective of the Feast of Tabernacles was the root for their own expression of thanksgiving after that first harsh winter. Whether this is true or not, I couldn't help but think that Jews celebrate Sukkot by recalling God’s providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert. And it commemorates a future time when the harvest of souls will bring about peace and harmony upon the earth. Simply put, it is a time to feast and a time to pray.
It was at that moment that I realized that I could do that -- that I could enjoy the gathering of my family, and honor the Lord who is protecting us and providing for us each day. I could be prayerful throughout the day, praising Him as the Holy Spirit brought impressions to my mind, among them ... How grateful I am that my extended family is healthy and thriving; that I could pray for the safety of my nephew serving in Iraq, while enjoying the laughter of his wife and two small children who are living here in Texas while he is deployed.
I can trust the Lord with the safekeeping of three other nephews who are serving their communities as law enforcement officers. I am thankful that He has given them hearts to love their neighbor, and that I know He hears my prayers concerning their safety each night. I am also so appreciative that He has restored a connection to more distant family members, who like myself, went their own ways after college. It is amazing to see how He brought us together after 30 years, through the seemingly random transfer of their son to a college here in Texas. I am astonished at the spiritual connection that my husband and I have with this young man, and how quickly he integrated into our family and accepted our love. This is the second Thanksgiving he has spent with us, and that very fact is evidence of what an amazing God we serve. I will be forever thankful for the renewal and restoration of old family ties, and the creation of new family relationships.
But perhaps the greatest reason for my thankfulness is the journey that God has taken my husband and me on this year. I have so much gratitude for how He is growing my husband into a spiritual leader who has so much passion to know Jesus and to obey His every command. He has a heart that bursts with a desire to see others reborn, and his heart grieves when he sees the suffering of those in bondage to satan. He has been on a transformative and healing journey of his own, and he is making it his mission to see others freed by the Power of Jesus, just as he has been. No wife could be prouder or made more humble by the evidence of compassion and mercy in her husband, than I.
Yes, this Thanksgiving was truly a season of gratitude; of adoration and praise to a merciful and gracious God. And it is my prayer that I will continue to express my indebtedness to the Almighty God of the Universe each and every day. I know that difficult days are forecast, but I also know that His love endures forever. That is the thought that I will take captive and nurture in my heart. I hope your Thanksgiving Week has brought you closer to the God who created you, and it is my prayer that all your days be full of thanksgiving and praise!
Psalm 9:1 "I will give thanks to You, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds."